NASHVILLE – The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds Tennesseans of a simple, yet significant tip for safer Fourth of July celebrations: Let the pros handle the fireworks.
With a multitude of professional displays scheduled for the Fourth, including one of the nation’s largest in Nashville, there’s no shortage of festive and colorful fireworks to enjoy in Tennessee. State fire officials urge Tennesseans to take part in these professionally run events instead of risking their lives and possibly breaking the law by detonating fireworks themselves.
“The State Fire Marshal’s Office wants consumers to stay safe as they celebrate our nation’s independence with family and friends,” State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak said. “To avoid the risk of injury and property damage associated with consumer fireworks, we encourage Tennesseans to join other community members in attending a public display put on by trained and licensed professionals.”
Each July 4th, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In addition to injuries, fireworks can devastate homes and property. Since 2013, fireworks have caused over $1 million in property damage in Tennessee according to state fire data.
Shooting fireworks at home requires that consumers learn their local fireworks laws. Tennessee’s counties and most of its cities have ordinances and restrictions regarding fireworks usage. Before detonating any firework, the State Fire Marshal’s Office urges residents to check with their local police and fire department to determine the local laws about fireworks.
A 2007 Tennessee law prevents children under 16 from purchasing fireworks; and those who are age 16 or 17 must present a photo ID to purchase them.
State legislation passed in 2011 reclassified sky lanterns as special fireworks exclusively for use by individuals with a professional license (certified flame effect operator, certified outdoor display operator or certified proximate pyrotechnic operator). The general public cannot purchase or use sky lanterns. If a sky lantern is found in the possession of someone who does not have a professional license issued by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the device can be confiscated and later destroyed.
A law passed in 2015 prohibits flying a drone (unmanned aircraft) above an outdoor ticketed event with more than 100 people, or in the vicinity of a fireworks display site, without the permission of the event operator.
If consumer fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:
- Never allow children to handle or ignite fireworks.
- Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Wear eye protection.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Never throw or point fireworks at people or animals.
- Only light fireworks outdoors on a smooth, flat surface away from homes, dry leaves and flammable materials.
- Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.
- Keep a bucket of water and a garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
- Sparklers are not toys and cause hundreds of injuries every year. Sparklers burn hot, can reach temperatures as high as 1,200° F, and stay hot long after they’ve burned out. You wouldn’t hand a matchbook or lighter to a child to wave or play with – so, don’t give a child a sparkler.